July 25, 2016 my husband and I were getting ready for our vacation to VT the next morning to visit my mom. We have 3 kids the ages then where 5, 1 1/2 and 3 months. I had my 5-year-old son at his dad’s house in PA and he was to be picked up by 2 so had to leave by 12, we live 2 hours from the drop off and pick up location. I do the driving every other week per court order since I relocated to a different state.
Grass had to be cut and groceries needed to be picked up for the 8-hour drive. I was also taking my niece and nephew along so I had to retrieve them as well at the same pick up location as my son. I was up the night before until 4am arguing with my husband and my 3-month-old was fussy and she was fully nursed so I was just tired.
Last minute before I was ready to leave, my husband asked me to take my 3-month-old daughter and he would keep our 1-year-old son with him to cut the lawn. My daughter was just not happy unless in my care, we have a bond.
I ran the car because I always do on hot days. I never put my kids in hot cars or seats especially so the metal doesn’t get hot on their car seat. I put her in with a blanket because stores are cold. I only needed a few things so I never grabbed the diaper bag that I always keep up front. It’s always the thing I grab always, my reminder.
I went in Walmart and as I was about to leave I was pushing my cart out. I saw a baby and it hit me. It was an instant stab. I never brought my daughter in the store with me. I threw my cart and went running. I left everything pushed in the road.
No one found her or reported it, she stayed asleep. I hit every button on my van and all doors opened. I was so scared. I didn’t know what I would find, it was 91 degrees out at 10:40 am. I got to the car and tried ripping the seat out but was shaking. I frantically unstrapped her and ripped her out holding her up to look at her. My beautiful baby was fine but I lost control and panicked. I had no phone. I didn’t know where I threw my cart. My head was spinning and I felt faint so I screamed for someone to call 911. In my head I thought maybe she seemed OK but her insides cooked.
I was not in my body at that time. I felt ill. The paramedics came in what seemed like forever, everyone was looking at me as I cried and pleaded that I love her and I’m a good mom. The workers asked me to be calm, that she’s OK, but I just could not. My baby was fine, I was not. The paramedics where more worried about me. I insisted to take her to the ER though they said it was not necessary, I was sure I harmed her. They agreed and she went.
The ER doctor looked her over and she was fine. She was released. They told me it had to be reported. I didn’t care as long as she was ok. The doctor said she never had bad vitals and didn’t even have sweat on her car seat from what was reported by the officer and paramedic.
I ended up canceling our trip. I just couldn’t go on vacation with what I had done. I didn’t even want to live.
I was not ok. I did not realize by me finding her and asking for help I wanted her to be ok, that I would be charged with reckless endangerment and confined unattended child 5 days later… AND investigated by CPS.
I could have just left, but I needed to make sure she was ok. That was my main concern. Never once did being charged cross my mind.
All my charges got dropped. CPS never took my daughter and found through surveillance from the Walmart cameras that I in fact was honest and they could see it was not intentional.
She was rear facing and asleep and I forgot. I was out of my routine, rushing and I messed up big time. I forgot my child who relies fully on my care as her mother. I failed her.
I had to seek immediate therapy and get on meds and I was watched because I was suicidal for a few weeks. I did not want to be alive. I was the mom who wouldn’t and won’t let my child in a car alone to even run in to pay quickly for gas. I still have panic attacks and it took 9 months to be able to go in a Walmart parking lot. How could I do this to my child?
I have yet to forgive myself and just had the 1-year mark. I am now able to share my story. I have a private support group and I never knew how many loving parents did this. I was the one who judged others. I see now it CAN happen.
Lots of times people say nothing if they aren’t caught but I was so scared. I love her and thought she was going to die.
Since then I have become an advocate for KidsAndCars.org and talk to mom’s and busy dad’s especially with multiple kids that this can happen. It’s not excusable but it is real and it exists.
I never took precaution in the past for this stuff because in my mind I was a loving mom and I could NEVER forget my child. How could a loving mom forget their child? Well I was wrong.
It will forever haunt me.
I forced my doctor to give me an MRI because I don’t understand how I did it when she’s my world.
My husband knows me as a mom and he is my biggest supporter. I am sorry for what I did and all I can do now is help others.
Thank you, God, for another chance.